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(Nov 2010) Blog Post on Teaching

Prompt: What do you hope to be doing in 5 years? In 10? How to do you plan to reach these goals and what will motivate you along the way?

Growing up, I’ve always wanted to make some “major change in the world”. I dreamed of inventing the newest innovation in technology, or discovering the next important cure. But recently, I realized that sometimes, dreaming too far fails to recognize the importance of the little contributions, the “puzzle pieces” that make up the big picture. Would a person be able to discover the cure for cancer had someone not influence him or her in their life to strive for such a discovery, or had previous scientists not studied the same concept? Long story short, I decided in the end that these little puzzle pieces were more important. As such, I found my still-strong desire to become a teacher, a position in which I could contribute and leave a part of myself in the next generation, and hopefully encourage or contribute to a student’s development into a “world-changer”.

Some teachers I had in high school also contributed to the creation of this goal, notably my freshman English teacher. He, along with others, proved to me that there are teachers who not only teach their subject, but try to teach life lessons and become a friend to the students. These teachers taught with the passion to help students get through life, especially during the tumultuous times of high school. My English teacher demonstrated this by telling us his life story at the end of the year, highlighting his own experiences with drugs, bad decisions, and depression. He became a teacher “to be the trustworthy friend to students that he had never had growing up”. And of course, true teachers would bring an air of entertainment to the field, whether it being in their personality itself, their ability to actually be humorous in their lessons, or their usage of creative and fun lessons to teach subjects. The latter talent was best demonstrated by my English teacher’s method of introducing the famous book on communism, Animal Farm: he gave us two index cards, promising to award extra credit to anyone who physically held the cards at the end of 15 minutes, then sat by and did nothing, watching to see what would happen.

These influences and others like my church youth pastor, and acting as the mediator in several social situations, combined to convince me of a career in teaching and counseling. Though I no longer have that specific English teacher, I’m constantly inspired by other teachers who share the same intentions. Meanwhile, my youth pastor continues to be the person that I look up to and strive to be like. As a counselor, he is trustworthy and forces us to confront situations, rather than protecting us and lying to make us feel better. At the same time, he combines intelligence and a very organized nature with his own touch of “craziness”, giving him the ability to make people laugh and enjoy themselves while learning. Finally, I’m slowly gaining experience in education, from teaching classes at my church, to being a coach on a swim team.

Realistically, I have not decided on an exact path; I’ve been fluctuating between becoming an English teacher to becoming a social studies or psychology teacher, and between becoming a high school or college professor. Whatever I end up choosing, the answer will be the same: to gain experience in any way I can from now until 5 or 10 years later. Whether this be by working on the swim team, teaching at church, becoming a tutor or a teacher assistant, or getting internships in education, my primary goal is to garner experience. Though getting good grades and getting into a good college are important in the end, I feel like they would not prepare me as well as would personal experience. Such a belief stems from my belief that we grow up in a “protected society” that fails to prepare us for the real world, where there aren’t pre-planned tests, where not every choice is crystal clear between “good and bad”, and where materialistic concerns aren’t lasting. I feel as if my current education can be described as just that; it does not offer me the experience that I could get by focusing my time and energy elsewhere.

Others would probably say that such experience should be gained after graduation, but I say otherwise. I personally do not tie age and maturity as close together as others do; I believe that some people need to focus on experience over bland cookie-cutter education at an earlier point in their lives than others do. And yes, I consider myself to be one of those people. I believe that now is the time for me to gain experience in teaching, in order to help me become a better teacher or counselor in 5 or 10 years. Though saying so sounds egotistical, it is the honest truth.

$40p/h

Steven Z.

Master's Student, Psychology and Math Tutor, Aspiring Teacher

100+ hours
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